My Secret Life: Marina Abramovic, performance artist, 63

My parents were ... partisans during the war. My father became a judge but he never lost his impulsive nature, he was incredibly open. My mother was the Director of the Museum of the Revolution and Art in Belgrade and was a real neurotic – she would make my school friends wear surgical masks when they came to our flat.

The house/flat I grew up in ... was a large flat in Communist Belgrade. My father's war record meant that we were given a very large flat: it was all parquet floors and stucco ceilings. I had my studio where I would paint.

When I was a child I wanted to ... write poetry. I lived in a world of dreams.

If I could change one thing about myself ... I would change my nose; I always wanted Brigitte Bardot's nose.

You wouldn't know it but I'm no good at ... controlling my emotions; I'm a Slav, after all.

At night I dream of ... I used to have a recurring dream where I was at a party in a country house, surrounded by the same people each evening. Everyone would be singing and dancing and after a while I came to know the people; though, of course, they never really existed.

What I see when I look in the mirror ... At different times I see different things. Sometimes I see a 14-year-old girl who's never really grown up; sometimes I just see myself, a lonely artist in a hotel room.

I wish I'd never worn ... the paediatric shoes that the doctor gave me for my flat feet. They were hideous flat boots covered in metal. I looked very odd.

I drive ... a seven-seat Jeep Commander.

My house is ... a big old loft in SoHo, New York. It has 17 windows and the light streams through at all times of the day.

My favourite work of art ... is non-material art. I don't like material work: ideas should be able to live.

My favourite building ... is the Guggenheim Museum in New York. It has this spiral energy about it; you can tell it was built to house work with real spirit.

My secret crush is ... is Marlon Brando. He had an air of loneliness about him, like he was separate from the rest of the world – I like that.

Movie heaven ... is an Armenian film called The Colour of Pomegranates where the lead actress, Sofiko Chiaureli, plays six different roles.

A book that changed me ... is The Tao of Physics which explores the parallels between physics and mysticism.

My greatest regret ... is that I could never sing as well as I would have liked.

My real-life villains ... I don't have any. I always look for the light of goodness flickering in people.

The person who really makes me laugh ... is Charlie Chaplin when he plays Hitler.

The last time I cried ... was two days ago at an exhibition of Richard Serra's work at the Whitney Museum in New York.

My five-year plan ... is to develop my foundation, The Marina Abramovic Foundation for Preservation of Performance. I want to leave a tangible legacy behind me, something that endures when I'm gone.

What's the point? Live life consciously and die consciously, that is the point.

My life in six words ... work, work, work, work, work, work.

A life in brief

Marina Abramovic was born in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, on 30 November, 1946. Describing herself as the "grandmother of performance art", her career has spanned more than four decades and she is widely seen as the foremost performance artist of her generation. She divides her time between a loft in SoHo, New York and a house in upstate New York. Marina will be speaking today at Tate Modern (sold out) and her work is showing at Lisson Gallery until 13 November. See

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power